Issue 38 / 5 October 2015

THE Royal Australasian College of Physicians is leading the call for a global day of action on the health impacts of climate change.
The aim of the day — to be held next Monday, 12 October — is to build international momentum ahead of the United Nations 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, with doctors and other health professionals uniting to call for real climate action.
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) has developed a global consensus statement on the health impacts of climate change and has invited medical organisations from around the world to endorse the statement.
It emphasises the need for countries to urgently implement mitigation and adaptation measures to minimise the adverse health effects of climate change and to assist low-income countries to do so.
On 12 October, the RACP will promote the Consensus Statement, calling on world leaders to commit to meaningful action on climate change and will continue that push until the Paris Climate Change Conference in December.
At that conference, world leaders will gather to negotiate a global agreement to limit the risk of dangerous climate change. This is a critical time in the history of humanity. As US President Barack Obama stated at a recent UN climate change summit: “We are the first generation to feel the impacts of climate change and the last to be able to do something about it”.
Dr Richard Horton, the editor of The Lancet, will launch the RACP’s “Doctors for Climate Action” website on 8 October. Doctors will be able to visit the website when it goes live to add their name in support of the Consensus Statement and to share facts about the health impacts of climate change via social media.
Why should doctors take action?
The links between climate change and health are clear. The increase in extreme weather events such as floods, bushfires and heatwaves are already taking their toll.
As global temperatures rise, disruption to agriculture, increased water insecurity and sea level rises will adversely affect our health. Carbon emissions contribute to air pollution levels, which according to the WHO are responsible for 7 million premature deaths annually.
Earlier this year, The Lancet Commission on Climate Change and Health released its second report on the health impacts of climate change. The first report, released in 2009, described climate change as “The biggest global health threat of the 21st century”.
The second report confirmed this, and also identified the many health benefits of taking action, saying “Tackling climate change could be the greatest global health opportunity of the 21st century”.
We must seize that opportunity to protect our health and our climate.
Convincing world leaders to commit to significant action on climate change requires support from citizens. Understanding the health impacts of climate change is an important motivator for people to call for action.
The media has a key role to play in delivering this message, with doctors providing a credible voice in support.
Doctors have always played a key role in advocating for important changes to protect the health of citizens. Given the health impacts of climate change, it is natural that doctors should advocate for action.
The Consensus Statement and the global day of action provide a platform for all doctors to show their support for global climate action.
Join us on 12 October to add your name to the call, share the message on social media and ensure world leaders sit up and take notice of the urgent need for action on the health impacts of climate change.
Associate Professor Linda Selvey is a councillor on the RACP’s Australasian Faculty of Public Health Medicine and is the director of epidemiology and biostatistics at the School of Public Health, Faculty of Health Sciences, at Curtin University.

9 thoughts on “Linda Selvey: Climate change action

  1. Akos Z Gyory says:

    Could Climate scientist from anywhere in the world point to a single REAL EXPERIMENT clmate scientists have ever done?

  2. pam konecny says:

    I doubt ignorant climate warming denialists in their comfy old armchairs have read the Nature and Science papers on this topic recently, even the World Bank and economics literature is facing up to the reality. Tim Flannery’s recent excellent publication “Atmosphere of Hope” is commended to all those keen to avail themselves of the latest scientific research and be brought up to date rapidly. Yawning and maintaining ignorance of the accumulating science on this critical issue is not the way forward.

  3. Joe Kosterich says:

    Meanwhile, real figures on deaths from the USA shows that 2000 people in the US die each year of “weather related causes”. Twice as many die from cold in winter than warmth in summer. So even if global warming was real this notion that health will be adversely affected is complete nonsense. 

     Those in society , including doctors , who are questioning of climate change dogma (every prediction of doom has been wrong) are indeed more like Semmelweis for questioning orthodoxy rather than meekly accepting it.

  4. Adrian R. Clifford says:

    It is about time that doctors and other radical pundits stop opinionating on climate change because of a few zealots and political brainwashers who claim dire results of alleged global warming. Over the millenia climate change has cyclically gone from warm periods to ice age conditions and no doubt will continue to do so long after we vacate this planet. Records of climate at best go back for 2 or 3 centuries. We do know that most people who lived in ice age conditions raely got beyond the fourth decade yet today most people live to well into their seventh and eighth decade helped by a moderate to warm climate.                                                                                                          I am reminded of all the doom and gloom merchants being compared with King Canute who stood at the ocean’s edge and commanded the tide to go back!

  5. Farmey Joseph says:


    Yet another article that makes the following assertions but provides zero evidence for these assertions:

    1. This current phase of climate change is extremely dangerous for humans.

    2. This current phase of climate change is entirely due to anthroprogenic CO2 emissions.

    3. Assuming #1 and #2 are true, the most effective response is to reduce CO2 emissions (as opposed to, for example, mitigating the effects of climate change.)

    Each of these assertions is controversial.  Each of these assertions demands strong high-quality evidence.  

    But as usual, this article provides none.  (Hint: quoting a report is not evidence.  Broad unsubstantiated statements are not evidence.)

    Yet again, we witness the phenomenon that all principles of scientific evidence go out the window when there is a politically correct opinion to be advocated.  The RACP, and all other doctors who sign up for this hysteria without bothering to appraise the underlying evidence, should be ashamed of themselves.

  6. Clare Roczniok says:

    Congratulations to the RACP on having the sense of leadership o speak out on a subject that is in everyones interests ours and our patients.

    Climate change is a real crisis and it is time intelligent people – incluidng doctors took their heads out of the sand.

     The doctors who don’t believe in climate change  had they  been around  in a different era would probably also  have scoffed at  hand washing .

    I hope history will laugh at them






  7. Dr Robin Willcourt says:

    This is yet another example of Eminences pontificatiing when they are without any knowledge about the topic needed to give advice. We are in fact enterintg an Ice Age: there is no Global Warming. It is, outside of the cholesterol hoax, the greatest fraud yet put on to the Human Race.

    The information is readily available to educate yourselves. 

    I am stunned at the utter ignorance and arrogance of the medical profession in Australia. It is without parallel in this current Universe! It’s bad enough that so many Eminences are clueless when it comes to their own areas of expertise, let alone when it is a subject totally foreign to them.

  8. Pam Konecny says:

    Doctors, with their scientific backgrounds, most of whom care for humanity, have an opportunity to add their perspective and gravitas to what has become a critical and rapidly narrowing window of opportunity to do something about the exponential degradation of the climate that we currently enjoy. Doctors should add their voices to the growing number of educated and aware, to increase the momentum for necessary change. Great leadership has been shown by the RACP, highly commendable.

  9. m Kennedy says:

    I think doctors should stick to what we are good at, that is treating patients.

    A friend of mine who is a professor in the area of climate variations and sea level changes wonders what doctors would say if he made some similar pontifications on some area of health.

    Climate change is a religion for some and the more one moves to the left the greater the noise. Climate has varied enormously over the mllenia and this seems to have been forgotten. Sydney harbour did not have any water in it 20,000 years ago and 100,000 years ago the ocean was about 60 M higher than at present.

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